One of the first people through the doors of The Hoxton, Shepherd's Bush didn't have a booking for one of the hotel's 237 rooms, nor a reservation at Chet's, the Thai-Americana diner led by Kris Yenbamroong of LA's NIGHT + MARKET.
"He used to have his office in the building," explains the team member we get chatting to on check-in. "He wanted to go up to that bit to have a look at how it'd been transformed."
Lock, stock and barrel, he would've discovered: the original Threshold and Union House, a 1950s block that housed Shepherd's Bush post office, was demolished and the EPR Architects-designed new hotel built from the ground up (in three different colours of brick). In a nod to legendary local showbiz haunts - BBC Television Centre, Bush Hall, Shepherd's Bush Empire - an illuminated, cinema-style awning out front carries the words: READY TO ROCK.
Retro room interiors, left, and the nostalgic front desk.
The arrival of the fourth Hoxton in the capital has created an effect a little like when you paint a single shelf, only to realise the whole room is now screaming out for a refresh. The surrounding neighbourhood - well-serviced by phone unlocking spots and betting shops - is going to have to pull its socks up if it doesn't want to be outshone by its sexy new resident, but this is surely what the group - no stranger to a site ripe for regeneration - had in mind. The original, 2006-opened Hoxton rose in a repurposed Shoreditch car park, while the soon-to-open Brussels iteration will be housed in the brutalist Victoria Tower, former European HQ of IBM, north of the city centre.
Here in W12, interiors come courtesy of Ennismore's AIME Studios, echoing retro London transport looks, with nostalgic patterns and sunny, plummy colours lifted from the TFL archives in the nearby London Transport Museum Depot. It's apt. Leaving the rumble of buses behind and stepping into the gaily lit lobby is transportive. Arranged around a centrepiece bar are rugs by local company Homes Bespoke and vintage 70s furniture, with walls brought to life by paintings, prints and mixed-media collages, including statement-sized works by figurative artist Cece Philips and abstracts by Hannah Ludnow, plus pot plants, ferns and foliage enough to lend some tropical va-va-voom. But the biggest buzz comes from the crowd, made up of cool-kid creatives knocking back cocktails, and urbane, multi-gen family groups out for supper, all of whom, you get the feeling, have been itching for a chance to get inside ever since the covers came off the glossy new facade.
It's all change here. Goodbye, staplers, Bisley filing cabinets and photocopiers; hello, lychee martinis, yellow miso aubergine and fried chicken khao soi. The Hoxton, Shepherd's Bush promises to bring the house down.
Thai-Americana diner Chet's.
Bedrooms are compact but bijou. Ours, a 17sq m Cosy Park, overlooks Shepherd's Bush Green. Watching the world go by through the huge - soundproofed - window is hypnotic - perhaps why the TV comes minus the usual streaming services. The king-size bed boasts a wavy, textured headboard, with peachy walls and a coppery ceiling adding warmth. There's a full-length mirror with scalloped edges, glass lampshades in shades of chocolate eclair and cream puff, and a desk and wardrobe area, incorporating a mini-fridge. We love the black, rotary-dial phone (with free international calls), vintage-look Roberts radio and flattering light cast by the duo of rattan-shaded bedside lamps.
The box-fresh bathroom is big and bright, with minty-green walls, rainfall showers and full-sized toiletries from The Hoxton's own line, Blank.
What's for breakfast?
Following rave reviews for its three-month Hoxton, Holborn pop-up, Chet's Thai-Americana diner has found a permanent home here - and breakfast just got a whole lot more interesting. Start with a good, simple American filter coffee, then throw caution to the wind. We're talking caramel-battered babka French toast with lime syrup and whipped Thai-tea butter, the house bodega sandwich, with sai uah sausage, egg, cheese and umami ketchup, and crispy Chiang Rai-style fried chicken with hot honey. Ideally, go early: you might need time for a pre-lunch nap.
Lunch and dinner?
Chet's, the encore. The busy open kitchen only goes to emphasise the laid-back ambience of the dining space, characterised by high, pink ceilings, caramel accents and cute curtained-off areas.
Not without good reason has chef Kris Yenbamroong received multiple James Beard award nominations. The roti and curry sauce is a good place to start, before moving on to the likes of a fiery larb gai, made with minced chicken and lime, and Chet's fully loaded smashburger. Our server informs us that any dish can be customised to make it milder or hotter, but we forget. Never mind. Steam might be coming out of our ears, but the baptism by Yenbamroong fire is worth it.
Is there a bar?
The central wraparound bar, finished in lacquered reeded timber, is the first thing you'll clock on entering the hotel. With ferns and succulents fringing an overhead curved chrome gantry stocked with a rainbow of spirits, the air is altogether more five-star Bangkok than BBC Television Centre.
In the mood to share? Go for the Bacardi-based Thai-ami vice, which serves two to four and is served in a full moon bucket with half a bottle of champagne and tropical fruits. Otherwise, the lychee martini - made with Grey Goose, RinQuinQuin, manzanilla sherry, lychee, Chet's Super Sour and wakamomo - takes some beating.
Interiors echo retro transport looks with nostalgic patterns and sunny, plummy colours.
Rooms come equipped with the basics, plus complimentary milk from The Estate Diary, Nobl water, Lyons coffee bags and Clipper tea. You'll also get The Hoxton's own guide to the Bush, which is great for those who haven't come with an itinerary in mind (and would rather visit indie businesses than get sucked into hours spent lost in nearby Westfiled shopping centre).
What are the hotel's eco-credentials like?
The kind that stand up under scrutiny. From a collaboration with zero-waste store Plastic Freedom, whose first bricks-and-mortar retail space is here, to supporting the People's Kitchen, which provides those in need with a hot dinner, through an optional £1 donation added to your bill at Chet's, The Hoxton is a champion.
What about accessibility?
Good. There are wheelchair-friendly rooms, three accessible lifts and most of the action takes place in and around the ground-floor lobby.
What's the crowd like?
Celebratory. Perhaps because London's west finally has its own Hoxton. Perhaps because dogs are welcome. Either way, expect Friday feels, every day.
Within a short walk I can find…
Stroll to Portobello Market to search for antique and vintage treasures, then head back to base via Notting Hill for one of Buns From Home's famously gooey cinnamon swirls, made with butter from Burgundy and baked to perfection by local pastry chef Barney Goff.
Things I should know
If you can time your visit to coincide with the last Saturday of the month, do it. In partnership with Ladbroke Grove's Rough Trade West, a regular party night will feature live music, experimental performances and DJ sets that have very little in common with the Top of the Pops recordings that once took place a stone's throw away.
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